Gone are the days, particularly in Africa when dancing as a job was considered to be for lazy people who were considered as ‘unserious elements’ in the society.
Today, the situation has changed as there are now professional dancers, especially youth who earn their living from the art.
Although, dancing can be many things to different people, like an expression of art, fun, hobby, representation of culture and a great form of exercise which includes aerobic health benefits to improve bone health, flexibility, and mental health.
Also before now, Africa’s many tribes each developed their own unique dances, typically accompanied by vocal and percussive music that varied from tribe to tribe.
Dance was explored in the ancient times as an expression of celebration, fertility and social recreation which has not changed till date.
Some professional dancers say in view of the numerous benefits of dance, some economic benefits could be achieved through proper exploration of dance, mostly among the youth, considering the unbearable situation of unemployment in the country.
A professional dancer, Sani Imonikhe, popularly known as ‘Dance Machine’, speaking from his personal experience on how he has been able to generate wealth through dance, says it takes hard work and intense creativity to achieve it.
Imonikhe said he started out as a street dancer as he had to think out of the box by deliberately engaging individuals as their personal instructor.
He advised youths to learn from his exploration of dance to also enrich themselves, urging them to look out for highly-populated estates around them where they could easily get individuals to teach the act of dancing to be paid in return.
According to him, doing this would go a long way in engaging them meaningfully as they invest in their future.
He said he started making money through dance as a street dancer, organising dance workshops and teaching people the basics of specific dance styles.
“To monetise dance in Nigeria requires that the youth remain hardworking and creative. They can imagine how much they would generate if they engage like 40 individuals in dance for the month within their neighbourhood at the rate of N4,000 per month.
“This does not require any space where they would pay but could be done on an open field or space around an estate.
“Another avenue of generating money through dance is to engage individuals in online classes without requiring much time from an instructor but would have been prerecorded for learners to follow.
“This was the way I started generating revenue from dance and I am still into that. With this, instructors would be adding value to the society unconsciously and lifting many from the state of depression.
“In life, the major tools of success are discipline, coordination, ability to think fast and having more retentive memory which can be derived from dancing,” he said.
Imonikhe said a lot of people would certainly indicate interest in being taught how to dance because of the need to control their weight, keep fit and to maintain sound mind.
He says if government must eradicate 70 per cent of the rate at which the youth engage in drugs, armed robbery, internet fraud, cultism and other social vices, then government must invest in creating dance academies at each local government of the federation where the youths can learn.
According to him, these academies would engage dance professionals and choreographers to teach the youth as a way of keeping them meaningfully engaged.
He says the structure should be designed in such a way that upon graduation from the academy, government provides an avenue for them to be gainfully employed.
Imonikhe also said dance is capable of reinstating an individual from the state of depression to happiness due to the level of concentration it requires.
“Dance is a good form of exercise which helps to burn calories faster in the human body and for every one-hour dance, the dancer would have burnt 488 calories.
“This also helps the brain to function well, it helps blood to flow through the body freely, as well as aids the adrenaline to pump better,” he said.
Also, Adedayo Liadi, artistic director, Ijodee Dance Company, popularly known as ‘Olori Oko’, who has been practising for over 35 years, says the only way to monetise dance in Nigeria for the benefit of the youth is for government to invest in the sector appropriately.
Liadi, who is now based in France, says the sector has long been abandoned as there are limited structures the youths can leverage.
He said dance is a lucrative profession but needs more of government’s presence to grow it.
According to him, Nigeria needs to tap from how the industry is been handled in other climes by giving out annual subvention to local certified dancers to run dance companies, studios and academies.
The Olori Oko crooner says in the absence of dance companies at the grassroots level, this would enable a professional dancer to train the youth so that they can make a living from it.
He explained that the subvention would enable the dancers hold frequent rehearsals, carry out research, plan dance festivals, hold dance workshops and lots more.
“Nigeria must intentionally build structures and invest in dance; it is a lucrative profession but before the youth can tap positively from the sector, government needs to invest in it well enough.
“Investment in the area of building dance companies, academies and studios in different locations across the country and ensure that the certified dancers are engaged to train the youth to tackle their restiveness.
“Nigerian dance industry has been badly handled, that is why we can only boast of two dance companies with good structures that can withstand western dance structure. The Nigerian government needs to do more,” he said.
The professional dancers said that parents and schools also have a lot to do in reshaping the society through arts, in view of the current state of the nation where most youths engage in all forms of social vices.